Borderless, November, 2021

Autumn: Painting in Acrylic by Sybil Pretious


Colours of the Sky…Click here to read.


In Conversation with Akbar Barakzai, a Balochi poet in exile who rejected an award from Pakistan Academy of Letters for his principles. Click here to read.

In Conversation with Somdatta Mandal, a translator, scholar and writer who has much to say on the state of Santiniketan, Tagore, women’s writing on travel and more. Click here to read.


Rebel or ‘Bidrohi’

Nazrul’s signature poem,Bidrohi, translated by Professor Fakrul Alam. Click here to read.


Jibonananda Das‘s poetry translated from Bengali by Rakibul Hasan Khan. Click here to read.

The Beloved City

Poetry of Munir Momin, translated from Balochi by Fazal Baloch. Click here to read.


A poem in Korean, written & translated by Ihlwha Choi. Click here to read.

Perhaps the Last Kiss

A short story by Bhupeen giving a vignette of life in Nepal, translated from Nepali by Ishwor Kandel. Click here to read.

Morichika or Mirage by Tagore

Tagore’s poetry translated by Mitali Chakravarty. Click here to read.


Click on the names to read

Rhys Hughes, Sutputra Radheye, Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal, Sheshu Babu, Michael Lee Johnson, Prithvijeet Sinha, George Freek, Sujash Purna,  Ashok Manikoth, Jay Nicholls, Pramod Rastogi, Ryan Quinn Flanagan, Vijayalakshmi Harish, Mike Smith, Neetu Ralhan, Michael R Burch

Poets, Poetry & Rhys Hughes

A story poem about The Clock Tower of Sir Ticktock Bongg. Click here to read.

Nature’s Musings

Penny Wilkes takes us for a stroll into the avian lives with photographs and poetry in Of Moonshine & Birds. Click here to read.


Waking Up

Christina Yin takes us on a strange journey in Sarawak, Malaysia. Click here to read.


A pensive journey mingling rain and childhood memories by Garima Mishra. Click here to read.

Khatme Yunus

Jackie Kabir brings us a strange story from Bangladesh. Click here to read.

First International Conference on Conflict Continuation

Steve Davidson explores an imaginary conference. Click here to read.

The Literary Fictionist

In Fragments of a Strange Journey, Sunil Sharma sets out with Odysseus on a tour of the modern day world. Click here to read.

Musings/Slices from Life

Yesterday Once More?

Ratnottama Sengupta recalls her experiences of the Egyptian unrest while covering the 35th Cairo International Film Festival in 2012. Click here to read.

Embroidering Hunger

An account of life of dochgirs (embroiderers) in Balochistan by Tilyan Aslam. Click here to read.

To Daddy — with Love

Gita Viswanath takes us into her father’s world of art and wonder. Click here to read.

Simon Says

Ishita Shukla, a young girl, explores patriarchal mindset. Click here to read.

Welcoming in the dark half of the year

Candice Louisa Daquin takes a relook at the evolution of Halloween historically. Click here to read.

Musings of the Copywriter

In Crematoriums for the Rich, Devraj Singh Kalsi regales his readers with a dark twist of the macabre. Click here to read.



Jayat Joshi, a student of development studies, takes a dig at unplanned urban development. Click here to read.

Once Upon A Time in Burma: Leaving on a Jet Plane

John Herlihy’s last episode in his travels through Burma. Click here to read.

A Legacy of Prejudice, Persecution and Plight

Suvrat Arora muses on the impact of a classic that has been coloured with biases. Click here to read.

The Observant Migrant

In Is Sensitivity a Strength or a Weakness?, Candice Louisa Daquin explores our value systems. Click here to read.

Book Excerpts

Arundhathi Subramaniam’s Women Who Wear Only Themselves. Click here to read.

CJ Fentiman’s award winning book, The Cat with Three Passports. Click here to read.

Book Reviews

Himadri Lahiri reviews Somdatta Mandal’s ‘Kobi’ and ‘Rani’: Memoirs and Correspondences of Nirmalkumari Mahalanobis and Rabindranath Tagore. Click here to read.

Suzanne Kamata reviews Iain Maloney’s Life is Elsewhere/ Burn Your Flags. Click here to read.

Bhaskar Parichha reviews Anita Agnihotri’s Mahanadi –The Tale of a River, translated from Bengali by Nivedita Sen. Click here to read.

Meenakshi Malhotra reviews Turmeric Nation: A Passage Through India’s Tastes, authored by Shylashri Shankar. Click here to read.



By Jayat Joshi

“…most lawns within
the limits of the municipality
are to be grown
on billiard tables—
fertilized by the organic matter
that is commonly
trapped in pinball machines
when the marbles
sit on their commodes.”
-- Marjorie Hawksworth, Urban Renewal

When my home grew old, its windows started chattering in the wind like teeth. My younger siblings would remember it only as they would a distant grandparent near twilight years. They would remember the impressions of dusted off termite nests looking like brown, dried-up river routes on a map. I was impatient with such memories. I liked to reminisce the angsty drawings I painted at whim in my teenage years on the walls, or scribbles made by my sister when she was five, both of which had gotten layered over with whitewash. In memories younger than mine, home was a description of what it would turn into.

Even neighbours who came to live in houses vacated by older neighbours from my childhood had relatively young memories. There was a real estate dealer who remembered everyone’s homes in terms of what they would fetch when the nearby flyover to the highway was constructed. When he saw someone strolling in the street, he would hint the value he put on their plot with the width of his smile. There were also other people concerned with this make-believe flyover. Some folks whose ancestors had missed out on the land grab of the early years in the city and who had now been compelled to build up from benami land as a collective, and who had now declared this place a small ‘village’ with its own municipal councilor, were preparing to lobby shifting the flyover by a few yards, so it just missed stomping out someone’s house. The optimal outcome was to make the construction cut through a nearby square plot which made everyone suspicious. This patch had a boundary circumscribing it with names of four different owners in white chalk on each side. Benami: under no one’s name. Here, under more than one name.

Most real estate projects in the city had an underbelly that lay bare like a demo surgery for medical freshers, but concealed in plain sight. The underbelly of our home, the surrounding apartments, the real estate broker’s house, and the old and new neighbours’ homes was the settlement along the bottom edges of the area of migrant labourers from faraway states, dragged here on the same wind that entices investment in real estate.

Successive winds had made these populations denser, trickling their living spaces down precarious slopes where land descended into ravines of seasonal rivers. These rivers overflowed with mud and plastic in the monsoon, taking with it a limb or two of these makeshift settlements, like the sea dilutes the durability of a sand castle with every wave. From them, our homes sourced domestic helpers and those who wanted to build more homes sourced their workers. They were the gears of going-on-ness. A well-intentioned administrative servant had, before retiring, laced the margins of the enclave with bamboo plantations. Bamboo roots kept soil steadfast. Bamboo was a mute saviour for informal settlements. Below the bamboo shoots, iron rods jutted into the ground to lay foundations of large infrastructure, like a bed of a thousand arrows from the Mahabharata. The imposing character of Bheeshma breathed his last on a similar bed amid the battlefield. He had the boon of dying only when he willed. 

When my home grew old, the sight outside its windows became weak. The eye could not wander far without colliding into a concrete block, manifestly an apartment structure called either ‘Mountain View’ or ‘Mount View’. Most of the flats in these apartments came in the way of each other’s view. For a couple or more square kilometres, residential complexes grew competing for the remaining thin sliver of sight of the nearby hillock.

Higher-end, dissatisfied customers then began shifting closer to the mountains to catch a better glimpse. Younger memories are not tempered with the punitive side of things. Between widening smiles of brokers and narrowing views of mountains, the remembrance of harrowing disasters is dissolved. In fact, the dissolution is all the more profitable. The aftermath of a natural disaster is a levelled playing field for real estate and repair to begin its game anew. Its anticipation marks the desire for a smarter city, a renewed city, a resilient city, a city that has gone on record trying to be the best version of itself.

Old houses in this city are nails in the imagination of the future. The people who own them refuse to ‘develop’ them—adding a floor, remaking the shape, clubbing two plots, encroaching extra space through a fence, rejigging the drainage, and so on. The view, finally, can be of state-of-the-art high-risers as good as the mountains themselves, often a cause of envy for them because they house more greens, lawns and gardens.

Bamboo, and many species of trees growing on sloping land have a packed network of rhizomes in the soil. These roots ought to tell us something; when the land yawns and shifts, all these interconnected rhizomes cling and stay. For narrow rods that penetrate deep, like flimsy taproots, the slightest tremor will send up magnified vibrations that reinforced concrete may be too rigid to bear. It could move when shaken. Or stand still and fall.

The city bureaucracy is like Mahabharata’s Bheeshma—of lofty character, having trained in the academy not far from here, and unwavering in commitment to the law, the Dharma, the golden rule of do unto others. The Dharma calls for moulding a supercity out of this virgin land, this plot-sized town at the scale of the nation. Uproot these cobweb-like rhizomes from the soil, make some fancy wood-furnished cafés from the barks, provide them with a natural aesthetic, and carpet the remains with rubble and concrete. Chase away the birds and install some ambience music, pigeons can stay, and someone will need to be employed to clean their droppings from the massive glass windows. Someone not from here, preferably — who share no votes here. The visionary gentle people who gave us ‘Mount View’ can give us our own sequestered enclave, replete with trees so our domain is secure at least.

Land title is presumptive in India. No one knows if you do own a plot, if you do, you may have some papers, these may be real or fake. The public record registers a few transfer transactions. The rest is too hard, too long, too complex, too silly. There is no land to give and take. Everything is already transacted. Unless the government seeks to flatten another forest. Land is assembled by real estate, by law, by settlement, by business, by the bureaucrat, minister, broker, resident, worker, shopkeeper, caretaker, priest and peddler. No one knows if someone else owns a plot, yet everyone continues to own more. When my home grew old, many people started pouring in to see if in fact they were the ones who owned it all along. Or if they could. Or if they couldn’t but wanted to. When my home grew old it became a thing to be cross-checked with our older memories, to see if it had been there at all. The second-guessing might prove too much for us.

Jayat Joshi is a researcher of urbanisation, especially the politics of land in India. He is pursuing a Master’s in Development Studies from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras.



Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are solely that of the author and not of Borderless Journal.